WTA Charleston: No. 1 Seed Madison Keys Upset By Shelby Rogers; Kasatkina and Gavrilova Set Up "The Dasha Derby" - UBITENNIS
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WTA Charleston: No. 1 Seed Madison Keys Upset By Shelby Rogers; Kasatkina and Gavrilova Set Up “The Dasha Derby”

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Hometown Girl Shelby Rogers Upsets 1st Seed Madison Keys

World No. 11 Madison Keys started the match in very unconvincing fashion, going down a double break in the first set. At 0-3, Keys started to push Rogers further behind the baseline, and got more consistent on serve. This helped her turn the set around and take the first 6-4. After getting the first game of the second set, Keys lost the next 11 games in a row, a sight rarely seen, putting her at 6-4 1-6 0-5. This was not only caused by Keys starting to perform poorly on serve, but especially Rogers becoming more aggressive, exposing the angles. Keys took one break back before losing 6-4 1-6 1-6 in 1 hour and 36 minutes. Keys made 7 double faults and won only 21% of points after 2nd serve, showing that she is still far from the level she was at before her injury. Shelby Rogers will face Naomi Osaka next in the Round of 16.

Daria Kasatkina and Daria Gavrilova Advance, Set Up “The Dasha Derby”

This was the third meeting between the WTA Rising Stars Daria Kasatkina and Monica Puig, and just like the previous two, it was a three set battle. It didn’t seem like that in the beginning, as Puig lost the first set 0-6, winning only 1 point on her serve. In the second set, the gold medalist from Rio started to fight back and find her game, which resulted in Puig winning the second set 7-6(3). The final set was more even than suggested by the score, with Kasatkina managing to find the extra bit of energy to push her to win almost every game. When serving to stay in the match at 2-5, nerves got to Puig, and after two lost rallies and a double fault, she was down 0-40. However, the Puerto Rican got really aggressive and saved 3 match points, before finally falling after 2 hours and 1 minute, 0-6 7-6(3) 2-6. Despite beating the World No. 1 Angelique Kerber twice already in 2017, Kasatkina hasn’t had an ideal start to the year. She was actually coming into Charleston with a 4 match losing streak. The Russian is now through to the Round of 16, just one match away from defending her quarterfinal run from last year in Charleston.

Kasatkina’s opponent in Round of 16 will be her good friend and 9th seed Daria Gavrilova. The Australian swept past American Alison Riske 6-3 6-1 in just an hour and 6 minutes. Despite a heavily taped right thigh, Gavrilova was moving well and her return game was on point, winning 65% of all points on return. Gavrilova has to hope for a solid result in Charleston, as she has to defend Quarterfinals in Madrid and Round of 16 in Madrid. On the bright side, the Australian made a first round exit at Roland Garros last year, giving her a chance to increase her ranking with a solid run in Paris, perhaps break Top 20. Head-to-head between Kasatkina and Gavrilova is 1-0 for the Russian, winning their only meeting at the 2015 US Open, Kasatkina’s breakout run.

Resurgent Rodionova Marches On

34 year-old Anastasia Rodionova is now through to the Round of 16, defeating former World No, 5 and 2012 Roland Garros finalist Sara Errani 6-2 6-2. Rodionova managed to just hit through Errani, who is currently struggling and outside the Top 100. This is the Australian’s 4th win in a row, not even losing a set yet in Charleston. Rodionova’s next opponent will either be World No. 12 Caroline Wozniacki or Annika Beck. In the live rankings, Rodionova is at No. 349, meaning that she will move up 320 spots in the rankings if she loses in the 3rd Round. If she will win, Rodionova will be back to Top 300.

Overshadowed Upsets

Other than the No. 1 seed Madison Keys and Venus’ loss to Siegemund, two other seeds lost today. 13th Shuai Zhang didn’t manage to hold off the sheer firepower of Naomi Osaka, even on clay. The Japanese player won 6-4 6-4, and will play Shelby Rogers for a place in the quarterfinals .

4th seed and Indian Wells champion Elena Vesnina will not defend her final at the Volvo Car Open, as she makes a 2nd Round exit to Hungarian qualifier Fanny Stollar. This is the biggest win of her career so far for the 18 year-old, beating the World No. 13. 13 is also the number of aces Stollar fired off in this straight set win. Despite failing to serve out the match twice, Stollar managed to regroup and win the match 7-6(7) 7-6(3). The talented Hungarian will next face Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia.

Remaining Results

5 seeds advanced to the second round, 4 of them in straight sets. 10th seed Irina-Camelia Begu was the odd one out, battling past Kristina Kucova 4-6 6-2 7-6(6) after 2 hours and 29 minutes. The Romanian will face Samantha Stosur next.

7th seed Kiki Bertens was the highest seed that advanced today, defeating Kateryna Bondarenko of Ukraine 6-2 7-5. Bertens will need to take advantage of the lack of favorites and get as far as possible, since she has to defend a staggering 1218 points. 11th seed Mirjana Lucic-Baroni is continuing to have an incredible year, now through to the Round of 16, where Bertens and Lucic-Baroni will face off.

15th seed Lucie Safarova beat her doubles partner Bethanie Mattek-Sands 6-3 6-3. The Czech will be next tested by Laura Siegemund,. 8th seed Anastasija Sevastova defeated Andrea Petkovic 6-3 6-4. After the match, the German informed her fans on Twitter that she suffered a knee injury in the match. She wrote that she will get an MRI and have more information soon. Petkovic is a well-liked player, but she has been going through a rough patch results-wise, so let’s hope that this will not be a career-ending injury.

Sevastova’s next opponent will be the Tunisian lucky loser Ons Jabeur, who actually didn’t win a match in qualifying, as she received a walkover and then lost to Asia Muhammad. In the main draw, however, Jabeur already beat Erakovic and Linette in straight sets. Jelena Ostapenko is the other Latvian in the Round of 16, beating Maria Sakkari 6-2 4-6 6-2.

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Emma Raducanu Confident Of Full Fitness Ahead Of Grass Swing

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Emma Raducanu - Cincinnati 2022 (foto Twitter @cincytennis)

Emma Raducanu has no regrets about her decision to skip the French Open and now believes she is in a ‘really fit place’ ahead of Wimbledon. 

The former US Open champion opted to end her clay season earlier than other players to focus on fitness and training with her coach. Raducanu stated earlier this year that her primary focus in 2024 is on her health after undergoing a series of wrist and ankle surgeries last year which sidelined her for months. 

Raducanu will return to action this week at the Nottingham Open, which is the event where she made her WTA main draw debut back in 2021. Despite her lack of match play in recent weeks, the Brit is feeling good and relishing her return to the grass.

“Body-wise, physical-wise, I feel really healthy,” she said on Monday.
“I’ve done amazing work with my trainer over the last few months, since surgery. I’m in a really fit place. I’m healthy and just looking forward to starting playing.”

Shedding more light on her health, Raducanu says she has full confidence in her wrists and believes they are in top condition. Making her feel more at ease when playing matches on the Tour. 

“I think my wrists are actually in a better position than they ever were. So there’s zero doubt or apprehension whether I’m hitting the ball or designing my schedule,” she explained.
“It’s more about being proactive and not wanting to put yourself in any unnecessary situations. I don’t need to rush and try to win the French Open, it wasn’t my goal this year.
“I had to prioritise where I wanted to target and it was just a good block for me to get some physical work done.”

Raducanu has played seven WTA events so far this season with her best run being to the quarter-finals of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart, where she was beaten by world No.1 Iga Swiatek. The 21-year-old is currently ranked 209th in the world. 

At the Nottingham Open, she will play her first match on Tuesday against Japanese qualifier Ena Shibahara. 

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Russian World No.78 Elina Avanesyan To Switch Nationalities

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Image via https://x.com/WTAMeridaOpen/

A week after losing her fourth round match at the French Open, a government minister has confirmed that Elina Avanesyan is in the process of changing the nationality of who she plays for. 

The 21-year-old is switching her aligence from Russia to Armenia, according to Armenia’s deputy Minister of International Affairs and communication. Karen Giloyan has told the news agency Armenpress that Avanesyan will soon be representing his country. However, the tennis player has yet to comment on the matter.  Avanesyan was born in Russia but has Armenian parents.

“Elina Avanesyan will compete under the Armenian flag, but there is nothing official yet. We are waiting for her to get the citizenship of the Republic of Armenia so that everything will be official,” Giloyan told Armenpress.

Such a development would be a massive coup for the Armenian tennis federation which currently doesn’t have a player ranked inside the top 500 on either the men’s or women’s Tour. The country has a population of less than 3M. Perhaps their best-known player is Sargis Sargsian who reached the top 40 back in 2004. Others on the Tour also have Armenian heritage but don’t represent the country such as Karen Khachanov.  

Avanesyan is currently ranked 78th in the world, which is 18 places below her career high. This season, she has scored high-profile wins over Maria Sakkari at the Australian Open, Ons Jabeur in Charleston and Qinwen Zhang at the French Open. 

She has yet to play in the final of a WTA tournament.

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Iga Looks To Be In A league All to Herself At Paris

Iga Swiatek claimed her fourth Roland Garros title in Paris.

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(@Eurosport - Twitter)

Just call her Iga. No other identification is needed.

As the years go by, Iga’s notoriety is sure to grow.

She’s probably already earned a spot in tennis’ Hall of Fame.

Yes, Iga Swiatek is a name to remember. A hero in her native Poland, a superstar in the world of sports.

IGA WAS JUST TOO GOOD

Iga just added to her stardom Saturday with an impressive 6-2, 6-1 victory over little-known Italian Jasmine Paolini to win her third straight French Open title. This was Paolini’s chance to make a name for herself, but she didn’t have the game to make it happen.

Iga was just too good. She made it look too easy.

Paolini could hit some great ground strokes, but when she looked up a bigger shot was on its way back. Iga doesn’t look like a power hitter, but she is.

WINNING 10 CONSECUTIVE GAMES

The 23-year-old Polish Wonder finished the first set winning five straight games, then started the second set winning five more games in succession. The 28-year-old Paolini didn’t seem to have a clue on how to upend Swiatek.

It took just 78 minutes for Iga to win her fifth Grand Slam title.

She’s a lot like her French Open hero, Rafa Nadal.

She takes every match seriously.

SWIATEK OWNS THE RED CLAY

No wonder Iga owns a 35-2 record at Roland Garos. Or that she has won 21 straight matches. Or that she owns a 5-0 record in Grand Slam finals.

She only dominated opponents, except for Naomi Osaka in the second round. Swiatek escaped a match point in that one and didn’t look back.

Iga’s game should be just as superb on the green grass of upcoming Wimbledon.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com.

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